The Gmiles Che'sed kases - The free loan societies.
Written and submitted by Susana Leistner Bloch:
A brief explanation:
Lending, not giving, is the traditional Jewish teaching that one should help someone help himself. From this concept comes the idea of societies and groups that would offer help and interest-free loans.
Since the early 1800s, most shtetlach and towns throughout Eastern Europe had Gmiles-khe'sed-kases (Free Loan Societies). Members of the community contributed small amounts of money to make interest free loans to individuals for businesses, dowries and even for ship passage to people immigrating to the "New Countries". The recipient of the loan, of course, was expected to repay the loan in full.
In the early 19th century, with the arrival of thousands of immigrants from Eastern Europe, Jewish communities throughout the world started to establish similar Free Loan Societies.
The Free Loan Societies were not only for the needy. They acted much like a bank, lending money to help establish businesses, and providing bridging loans to businesses for the time between the purchase of goods and the final sale. The only difference between a bank and the society was that no collateral was required and no interest was charged.
Further explanation of the Free Loan Society: The Story of The Free-Loan Society
About the Kolbuszowa Free Loan documents.
Many of you will recognize family names from Kolbuszowa or nearby shtetlach. Remember that these were loans and not charity and, therefore not limited to only the poor. Many shopkeepers and manufacturers availed themselves of the services of the Society and borrowed money to finance business ventures -- from factories to small stands in the marketplace. Many of these borrowers were also donors of the Society, paying monthly dues so that there would always be funds available.
When the situation in the shtetlach became difficult, these Loan Societies turned to their landsman in the " New Countries" and were generously helped by these Landsmanshaften. The documents below are the financial reports from Gemilat Chassudim Kolbuszowej (Kolbuszowa Free Loan Society) to the Kolbuszowa Relief Association, Kolbuszowa Young Man's Association and Kolbuszowa Landsmanshaft.
The Financial Reports were issued monthly and dated (with a few exceptions) the first day of the following month. The documents were signed by some or all the following people:
D. Grünstein, President of The Jewish Community Council, which changed its name several times:
Der Jüdische Gemeinde Verwaltung ( Jud. Gemainde Verwaltung)
Der Jüdische KultusGemeinde ( Jud. Kultus-Gemeinde)
Der Israelitsche Kultusgemeinde ( Israel. Kultus - Gemeinde ) = The Jewish Community Council.
Der Gmilas - Chasudim Verwaltung = The Free Loan Society of Kolbuszowa.
President: Dr. Kleinhaus
Members of the Board:
Arnold Sempel, Akiwa Leistner, Moses Nussbaum, Josef Nussbaum, Hirsch Halpern, Salomon Kraut, Schulim Brodt, Schaja Dawid Lische, Markus Lampel, Markus Weitzen, Leiser Hoffert
On the document dated 24 April 1938 , there are a few other signatures:
Secretary: Hersch Gewürz
Rabbi Chiel Teitelbaum
Members: Isaak Saleschütz, Salomon Sontag, Bezalel Greenstein
Samples of Signatures.
Submitted by Susana Leistner Bloch
Source : YIVO Archives, New York ( used with permission)
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